Influence of sequential stimulation practices on geochemical alteration of shale

Qingyun Li, Jennifer L. Druhan, John R. Bargar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water-based hydraulic fracturing fluids (HFFs) can chemically interact with formation shale, resulting in altered porosity and permeability of the host rock. Experimental investigations of spatial and temporal shale-HFF interactions are helpful in interpreting chemical compositions of the injectate, as well as predicting alteration of hydraulic properties in the reservoir due to mineral dissolution and precipitation. Most bench-top experiments designed to study shale-HFF chemical interactions, either using batch reactors or flow-through setups, are carried out assuming that the acid spearhead has already become mixed with neutral HFFs. During operations, however, HFFs are typically injected according to a sequenced pumping schedule, starting with a concentrated acid spearhead, followed by multiple additions of near-neutral pH HFFs containing chemical amendments and proppant. In this study, we use geochemical modeling to consider whether this pre-mixed experimental protocol provides results directly comparable to a sequential discrete fluid-shale interaction protocol. Our results show that for the batch system, the transient evolution in major ion concentrations is faster with the sequential procedure. After 2 h of reaction time, the two protocols converge to the same aqueous concentrations. In a flow-through geometry, the pre-mixed model predicts extensive chemical alteration close to the injection point but negligible alteration downstream. In contrast, the sequential model predicts mineral reactions over hundreds of meters along the flow path. The extent of shale alteration in the sequential model at a given location depends on shale mineralogy and where the acid spearhead resides during the shut-in period. The predictive model developed in this study can help experimentalists to design bench-top tests and operators to better translate the results of laboratory experiments into practical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number998379
JournalFrontiers in Water
StatePublished - Oct 17 2022


  • geochemistry (aquatic)
  • hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
  • mineral dissolution and precipitation
  • mineral scale
  • pump schedule
  • reactive transport
  • water-rock chemical interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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